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The Public and Your Vehicle
After a discussion on Mil-Veh-List about the conduct of the public around privately owned ex-military vehicles which are on display or for that matter, just parked whilst you buy a drink, I have put together the following article. The original discussion was based around the idea that us owners should let the public "experience" the vehicles in order to promote our hobby:
Short of sitting inside your vehicle, with at least one or 2 mates on guard duty on the exterior (attentive and not star gazing) then you are asking for trouble. The reality of kids inside something even seemingly indestructible as an AFV is that they BREAK THINGS! They walk on, swing from, fight over and pull your rare/expensive headsets, unless you have locked everything away that is. Even when you lock things down they will try and break them open "to see what's inside". Expect to find every control (including parking brakes) altered or moved, light switches broken (not at all helpfull for the trip home), wiring torn from accessories etc.
Ever had someone (usually an adult) get into your engine bay and remove radiator caps, dip sticks etc, of course they don't put them back, and if you don't discover what they have done you could end up with a seized engine.
I won't go into the aspects of deliberate theft, but lets just say one 17 year old came very close to some summary justice when I caught up with him after I saw him steal a first aid kit out of my Ferret, this was at an Army barracks for a recruiting drive. He was not the least bit ashamed or worried about it.
A while back the Army was in my area and had a static display of APC's, I got talking to one Commander who was crouched beside his turret just keeping an eye on all the kids. We got onto the subject of what the public will get up to and he told me the following; "Earlier on there was this kid here, probably about 12 years old, sitting in the drivers seat, well, you know how the yanks always have all those instruction plates on everything? Here is this kid reading the plate using his finger to keep his place. Then I see him start going through things in order, locate the gearbox selector, check its in neutral, check the brakes are on...... then he turns on the master switch and his hand is just coming up for the starter button.... HEY SONNY NO YOU DON'T!"
I think the thought of some 12 year old succeeding in getting his APC started and moving had suddenly increased this blokes alertness level.
A while back I caught a 16 year old girl and several friends actively destroying some of my property. When told to stop, the response was "nobody owns it" when it was quite blatantly mine. How do you stop them? Try and find out who the parents are amongst thousands? Physically remove them? (Wouldn't that be great, instant label of child molestor). I succeeded by intimidation, but whilst I was talking to them, they did not stop what they were doing.
Then there is the classic military AFV problem, each year, everyone's Armies have the problem of these fit/healthy young soldiers who fall off stationary AFV's and break parts of their anatomy. Let average Joe public loose on the top of your vehicle and after one or 2 incidents you are going to be uninsurable.
I don't wish to be negative, but it is necessary to be realistic.
I attend an annual charity event where I did volunteer to provide tank rides, the organisers thanked me but declined as they perceived it to be a Pandora's box if opened.
So we answer questions, let people peer in through hatches etc: but only for 10 minute stretches do we allow people on the vehicles, when we do we stand there (at least 3 of us) and hand kids down and stop 5 kids all trying to use the one set of hand holds at once etc. After that we need some time to recover. It is not a case of just letting 2 on at a time because the instant one kid see's another on a tank, they all come running - they pay no attenion at all when you say "2 at a time".
I think this is why you will find it is only the newer owners who allow access to their vehicles.
Someone else's view.
Being one of the owners of the "wrong color green" vehicles I have had....
- kids climb across the hood of my M35A2....
- found footprints along the firewall of my compressor truck....
- found folks sitting on the hard top of my M35A2...
- found folks sitting on the soft top on my M36A2...
- had every compartment door on my 530C pumper opened...
- every control and switch on every truck turned on...
- had one teenager help his self to starting a deuce....
- had folks do chin ups on top bows....
- had parents open the door (that has the sign that says "ask before opening"), and put there kid in the cab of a M123 so they can bounce up and down on the seats....
- had folks climb in the bed of a cargo truck, from every possible side...
And you know, when I ask these folks to direct me to their automobile so I can prowl through and sit on it they are OFFENDED!!!!
I should point out that every time one or more of my vehicles is displayed, there is ALWAYS a sign in front of it that gives a history of the vehicle, and points out that it is privately owned and restored!!! Often they have a placard on them asking people not to climb on them. I do not fault small (illiterate) children, it is the teens and adults and parents who show no respect or regard for other peoples property that infuriate me.
I am happy to show, and let people in on most of my equipment most of the time, I just wish they would ask first.
My thanks to David for the text and permission to use it in this article.
From an annonymous Ferret owner.
I did a display a few months ago with some friends. Took off the storage bin escape hatch assembly and put a little web rope across the opening so people could see in. Well, while I was talking to someone on the other side, a guy snuck his kid into the compartment. He swung around to get to the drivers seat and struck his head on the machine gun mount.
No one was hurt--he had a little bit of a bruise-- and no incident took place, but GEEZE, why do people just assume they can ignore the sign (Do not Touch), untie the web ropes and let their child play in a live armored vehicle....
Our little group has tightened up on watchfulness now. I am thinking of a plexiglass window or something around that opening. Hate to close it off from the curious, but one can ruin it for everyone.
As an aside, I always leave the hatches closed, as you well know why.
The Ferret that bit back!
This is probably one of those "only in America" stories, it almost qualifies for the "Darwin Award" for stupid behaviour. What a pity all our vehicles don't defend themselves against thieves like James' Ferret did!
I remember coming home one day and finding the Mark 1/2 roof/hatch popped open a little, about an inch or two, which was unusual since I always kept the hatch secured (but not locked). Curious, I climbed on board and opened the hatch and peered inside. I noticed a fairly decent puddle of blood on the floor, about 9" in diameter, and upon closer inspection I found a piece of skin stuck on the forward part of the turret. My guess is that somebody went inside in the hope of finding some "goodies," but, not being knowledgable about the quirks of the Mark 1/2 hatch, had allowed it to slam down on their head. For a couple of weeks I kept an eye out for anyone in my neighborhood with a large bandage on their forehead! One thing about ANY military vehicle to remember is that they weren't designed or built to comply with any civilian vehicle safety standards, so caution is a "must."
Be careful out there,
Doug - Personally, I find this to be self-inflicted justice courtesy of an inanimate object (well, perhaps not that inanimate) and have no sympathy for the would-be thief.
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